Frank Paul Nuuausala ignored the advice of his best friend in opting to sign for Wigan.
The New Zealand international forward has joined the Warriors on a three-and-a-half-year deal from Canberra Raiders and could make his debut in Friday’s Super League Grand Final re-match with Leeds at Headingley.
Wigan faced competition for the man dubbed the “wrecking ball” from arch rivals St Helens, who had past and present players Sia Soliola and Lama Tasi pushing their case.
In the end, Nuuausala was swayed by two former Wigan players and Kiwi international team-mates Jeff Lima and Thomas Leuluai and by the the club’s famous name.
“There was a bit of interest there (St Helens) but they just didn’t pull through really,” Nu’uausala told his first press conference at Wigan’s training centre. “It was just all talk.
“With Wigan it was all action. I just had to weigh up my options and decide what’s best for me and my family.
“Sia wanted me to play for Saints and when he found out I was going to sign for Wigan he was giving me some stick but I also got advice from Jeff Lima and Thomas Leuluai about Wigan and I’m hundred per cent happy I chose Wigan.
“They told me about the winning culture and the proud fans. When I was a kid I remember seeing Dean Bell and Frano Botica and Wigan were always on the telly because they were winning trophies.”
The 29-year-old prop, an NRL Grand Final winner who was in the Sydney Roosters team that beat Wigan in the 2014 World Club Challenge, only arrived in England on Monday and has not played a match for three months after being dropped by Canberra coach Ricky Stuart but he could be pressed into early action by coach Shaun Wane.
“He’s a chance,” Wane said. “He didn’t sleep much last night . We’ll see how he is on team run on Thursday and I’ll make a decision on how long I’m going to play him, if at all.”
Already without forwards Micky McIlorum, Tony Clubb, Dom Crosby, Joel Tomkins and Liam Farrell through injury and with John Bateman still a week away from completing an internal ban and skipper Sean O’Loughlin facing a disciplinary hearing following his dismissal for a high tackle in last Friday’s 22-18 win over Wakefield, Wane will be without an entire pack against the Rhinos.
“We’ve nobody else, we’re really struggling,” Wane said. “But, if there’s any risk, I won’t pick him.”
The Warriors have prop Lee Mossop back from suspension but centre Anthony Gelling is on the injury list and there are doubts over Dan Sarginson as well as Josh Charnley and Sam Tomkins, who have not been able to train so far after picking up knee and shoulder injuries against Wakefield.
Nuuausala, who won the last of his 15 caps in the 2013 World Cup final at Old Trafford, says he is preparing to make his debut on Friday but suggests it could come a week later against St Helens.
“I had my first session today,” he said. “I’m feeling a bit tired. I’ll take it day by day.
“I really do want to play but I know, if I’m not right, I’m not going to put my hand up and disrespect that jersey. I don’t want to let anyone down in my first game.
“If I’m ready to play this week, I will but if not I’ll definitely be ready to play next week.”
Meanwhile, Nuuausala, who is eligible for Wigan’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Hull at Doncaster on July 29, is currently staying in a hotel until the arrival of his wife and child at the end of the month and trying to settle into a new country.
“It reminds me of Coronation Street, everything looks the same but hopefully I’ll get used to it,” he said